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  • The two biggest players in the nation's pursuit of high-speed rail, Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authoriy, said Thursday they'll work together to search for trains that will operate at up to 220 mph along both coasts of the United States.

    AP/Oakland Tribune
  • A state agency is investigating the conduct of the ship pilot who was in charge of the empty oil tanker that sideswiped the Bay Bridge last week, and could yank his license if it finds him at fault for the accident.

    SF Chronicle
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    If the gas tax were a fuel gauge, its needle would be quivering pretty close to Empty. As great as hybrid, electric, and fuel-efficient cars are for the environment, each new one to hit the road diminishes gas tax revenue....The state of Oregon is trying to overcome privacy concerns by exploring options for being tracked in a mileage program. In a new V.M.T. fee pilot program, still in progress, participants can choose from five mileage reporting plans, ranging in transparency from invisible to opaque.

    Atlantic Cities
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     For months along the Mississippi River here, the withering drought has caused record-breaking low water levels that have threatened to shut down traffic on the world’s largest navigable inland waterway....The fact that the river has remained open for business along the critical “Middle Miss” — the 200 miles between the Mississippi’s last dam-and-locks structure, above St. Louis, down to Cairo, Ill., where the plentiful Ohio River flows in — stems from a remarkable feat of engineering that involved months of nonstop dredging, blasting and scraping away of rock obstructions along the riverbed, effectively lowering the bottom of the channel by two feet. 

    New York Times
  • Long Island, that strange place jutting east from New York City for 100 miles, was once the very symbol of America’s postwar future, of youth and growth, and is now the opposite of that. It is an old suburb that ran out of places to sprawl, was badly hit by recession a decade ago and again in the latest downturn, and is feeling its age....This year’s report was on mass transit, specifically increasing the capacity and usefulness of the Long Island Rail Road, the sprawling passenger network that hasn’t grown significantly in, oh, a century and a half.

    New York Times
  • High-speed rail skeptics gained new traction Wednesday with the promotion of Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, to chairmanship of the House panel that oversees railroads. A sharp critic of California's ambitious high-speed rail plan, Denham can use his post to challenge one of the Obama administration's top public works priorities. Future rail legislation must pass through Denham's subcommittee, which can also hold hearings to shed potentially unflattering light on specific projects like California's.

    Fresno Bee
  • The future of aviation fuels is cooking in a bland office park here in the biotech Silicon Valley, about 10 miles south of San Francisco....The algae cook is Solazyme Inc., which has learned to tailor the oil for aviation with properties not unlike petroleum-based fuel. In 2011, United Airlines Inc. flew the first commercial U.S. flight on a 50-50 blend of gasoline and Solazyme's algae-derived jet fuel..."They've figured it out, from our perspective, how to get to commercial," said Jimmy Samartzis, managing director of global sustainability for United Airlines.

    E&E Climate Wire
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    The Transportation Research Board Conference is going on in Washington this week, which means Washington's nerd-per-capita ratio is higher than usual. How high? Panel discussions included "Pavement Marking Management: Best Practices and Safety Benefits" and "State of the Practice in Ground Tire Rubber–Modified Asphalt." No wonder, then, our correspondent found herself yesterday at a panel on driverless cars, which was so crowded that people were sitting on the floor. There, she heard an interesting prediction for the future of cities from Thomas J. Bamonte, the general counsel for the North Texas Tollway Authority. Bamonte thinks cities will start competing to create infrastructure and policy that are friendly to driverless cars:

    Atlantic Cities
  • Pauline Weaver was in no hurry to get back on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner — even before federal regulators grounded the plane...."I don't think they are unsafe, but they definitely have 'bugs,'" says Weaver, a frequent flier. "I don't want another vacation ruined or delayed because of them."

    USA Today
  • Lithium batteries that can leak corrosive fluid and start fires have emerged as the chief safety concern involving Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a problem that apparently is far more serious than government or company officials acknowledged less than a week ago.

    AP/SF Chronicle